Viral video does not show Captain Bilal with son before battle
Clip is actually of the nephew of a journalist
Claim: A video shows Captain Bilal Zafar Abbasi hugging his son before leaving to fight in a battle during which he was killed in 2009.
Fact: The clip does not show Captain Bilal Zafar Abbasi or, for that matter, Captain Dr Bilal Khali, both of whom were killed in battle. Voice of America journalist Benazir Samad flagged the video, claiming the child in it is in fact her nephew and not the son of Captain Bilal. Additionally, both Captain Bilals mentioned above were part of the Pakistan Army, while the man in the clip is wearing a Pakistan Navy uniform.
On 15 May 2022, Facebook page ‘Geo Hazara’ posted a video of a man in an armed forces uniform hugging a toddler, with the claim that it shows Captain Bilal Zafar Abbasi, a Pakistan Army soldier, hugging his son in 2009 before leaving for to fight in the Second Battle of Swat, during which he was killed. Captain Bilal was part of the Special Services Group (SSG) and received the Sitara-i-Basalat, an award of the Pakistan Armed Forces bestowed by the president.
The caption accompanying the post is as follows:
“کیپٹن بلال شہید نے شہادت سے پہلے اپنے گھر والوں کو الوداع کہنے کے لیے جب اپنے بیٹے کو گلے لگایا تو ان کے بیٹے کی معصومیت دیکھیے، شاید قدرت نے اس ننھے فرشتے کو بتا دیا تھا کہ یہ آپکی آخری ملاقات ہے اپنے والد سے جو وطن عزیز کی سلامتی اور اس کے دفاع کے لئے اپنی جان کا نذرانہ پیش کرنے والے ھیں. اپنی چاہت و محبت کا جتنا اظہار کرنا چاہتے ہو دل کھول کے کرلو آج کے بعد پھر یہ موقع کبھی نہیں آئے۔
[When Captain Bilal Shaheed hugged his son while bidding goodbye to his family before his martyrdom, look at his son’s innocence. Perhaps nature had told this little angel that this is your last meeting with your father who is going to sacrifice his life for the security and defence of the beloved homeland. Do as much as you want to express your love and affection. This opportunity will never come again after today.]”
Fact or fiction?
Soch Fact Check came across a Twitter post by Voice of America journalist Benazir Samad, who flagged the video in question, saying it actually showed her nephew and has now been shared with “fake information”. In her post, Samad tagged Imran Riaz, who heads the Sindh chapter of the Federal Investigation Agency’s (FIA) Cyber Crime unit.
Did you verify it before tweeting? This is the video of my nephew. A Facebook page shared it with fake information and it has gotten viral on internet. Please delete this. @ImmiRizz https://t.co/u1nG0iJtBA
— Benazir Samad (@BenazirMirSamad) May 16, 2022
“This is the video of my nephew. A Facebook page shared it with fake information and it has gotten viral on [the] internet. Please delete this,” Samad wrote on Twitter, quoting a now-deleted tweet by Brigadier (r) Ashfaq Hassan carrying the same clip.
The quoted tweet was captioned as follows:
“وطن کی مٹی گواہ رھنا
یہ کیپٹن بلال کی شہادت سے پہلے آخری وڈیو ہے۔حیرت انگیز۔جیسےبچے کو پتہ چل چکا تھا اس لئے باپ کو نھیں چھوڑ رھا تھا
پاکستان مخالف قوتیں ان کے اور آپ کے درمیان دراڑ پیدا کرنا چاھتی ھیں۔ اپنے شھیدوں اور ان کی قربانیوں کو یاد رکھیں
دشمن کامیاب نھیں ھو گا انشاآللہ
[Oh soil of the land, bear witness,
This is the last video before the martyrdom of Captain Bilal. Amazing. As if the child knew [that his father would be martyred], he was not letting go of his father.
Anti-Pakistan forces want to create a rift between them and you. Remember your martyrs and their sacrifices.
The enemy will not succeed, God willing!]”
In addition, a user under a post carrying the video by Facebook page ‘Geo Hazara’ left a comment, saying, “یہ نیوی کی وردی ہے فیک ویڈیو پر ماشاءاللہ سبحان اللہ چل رہا ہے کیپٹن بلال کا تعلق ایس ایس جی سے تھا [This is Navy uniform. Masha Allah Subhan Allah is being said on this fake video. Captain Bilal belonged to SSG.]”
Soch Fact Check also compared the uniform worn by the man in the video to those typically worn by the Pakistan Army personnel and concluded that it was different from that of a military captain. The uniform visible in the video is of the Pakistan Navy, which can be seen here — third picture in the slideshow — and here as well. The Pakistan Army uniform can be seen here.
Since the Urdu text accompanying the viral video does not mention the last name of the soldier in question, some may believe it depicts another officer who shares the name ‘Bilal’, Captain Dr Bilal Khalil, who was killed in an attack on forces in Balochistan’s Panjgur and Noshki. However, he, too, was a member of the Pakistan Army and not the Pakistan Navy.
Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for the past seven-day period using the following search terms:
- “کیپٹن بلال شہید [Captain Bilal Shaheed]”
- “کیپٹن بلال کی شہادت سے پہلے [Before Captain Bilal’s martyrdom]”
- “کیپٹن بلال شہید شہادت سے پہلے اپنے گھر والوں کو الوداع کہنے کے لیے جب اپنے بیٹے کو گلے لگایا” [When Captain Bilal Shaheed embraced his son to say goodbye to his family before his martyrdom]”
The first search term turned up 38,354 interactions — the highest — across 246 posts. The second and third search terms turned up 230 posts with 30,440 interactions and 200 posts with 29,451 interactions, respectively.
A post by Facebook user ‘پہاڑوں سے بے پناہ محبت’, which has now been deleted, was viewed more than 603,000 times. Posts that garnered between 10,000 and 40,000 views include this, this, this, this, this, this, and this.
Conclusion: The clip in question does not show either Captain Bilal Zafar Abbasi or Captain Dr Bilal Khalil before battle. The individual whose nephew is seen in the video has flagged this claim as false. Moreover, both Captain Bilal Zafar Abbasi and Captain Dr Bilal Khalil were Pakistan Army soldiers while the uniform seen in the video is that of the Pakistan Navy.